The Arsenal conditional pay deferral – Is Ozil really in the wrong?

I’ll start this by saying I don’t see what Mesut Ozil has done wrong. He has reportedly refused to accept a conditional pay deferral, in which the players would take an initial cut but with full pay restored if Champions League football is regained.

But is he really the bad guy here?

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Mr. Mesut is in bother….seemingly

Now, these are the facts of the current brew-ha-ha:



– The pandemic and concurrent lockdowns have hit football hard


Football has been hit hard due to a lack of match-day revenues, TV monies, and commercial income. With no fans attending matches, then there is less ready cash coming into grounds. All firms need ready revenue/cash to operate, and the club’s costs will remain – staff still need to be paid, after all.



– Clubs big and small are being affected


Arsenal may not be at its peak on the pitch – but it’s still a giant amongst football clubs both nationally and globally.

Clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid also are having issues, and their revenues are still the first and second highest in the world. GOATs such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have taken pay cuts. Juventus is a huge club, and with the graver nature of the Italian pandemic, it has been hit toughly by this phenomenon.


One of the undisputed GOATs, Leo Messi, took a Barca pay cut amidst this crisis

The pandemic has been indiscriminate in the clubs it has affected, and Arsenal is not exempt.


– Other PL clubs have furloughed staff (with ready retractions)


Due to the impending financial hits, Tottenham, Liverpool, and Newcastle applied for the government furlough scheme, where the UK government would pay 80% of workers’ salaries, and the state would recompense firms with the balance.

Tottenham and Liverpool retracted their stances, though the case for cost savings still applies.

Arsenal has not furloughed staff, though they like others need to cut costs accordingly. Furloughing staff has hit the ire of many due to PL clubs been money-laden. Though the UK government has said that any organisation can apply for this, Arsenal appears not to be pursuing this course of action.

As our club won’t furlough, then the existing highest-paid staff are to take much of the burden.



– Wanting to know the state of the finances is valid


Ozil has been, supposedly, asking the club to see its accounts and projections, to see what the money will be spent on and if he could possibly input more. I’m no HR professional, but my admittedly cursory university modules taught me that companies should inform and consult staff of major organisational changes. This, surely, qualifies. And part of consultation is giving a frank and honest view of the situation to reach a resolution and conclusion.

It’s not advisable for firms to keep staff in the dark in these matters – and firms always have incentives to keep staff happy. One form – in this case – in disclosure and gaining trust in matters affecting the club.



– Kroenke Sports Entertainment (KSE) has input monies



Despite being much-maligned, the club’s owner has sought to shore things up financially.


The club’s owner, KSE, has input money to shore things up until the pandemic ends.

So even the owner, Stan Kroenke, who is not well-admired amongst Arsenal fans, has seen the severity of the situation and has shored things up.

In this context then, with the apparent pandemic and the financial hit consequent, why is Ozil in the wrong here?

He has not stated he doesn’t want to cut his pay.

He is making a reasonable request.

Yes, the other players (bar the other two who have not conceded) have agreed to the plan. So one could ask why he hasn’t as well. However, not everybody thinks the same and views things in the same manner. Maybe Ozil wants some further assurances and will pay more once he knows the full picture.


– Unpopularity


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Ozil isn’t very consistent – and the EL final was one of his worst performances for the club


I believe a factor in this issue is Ozil’s unpopularity. Yes, he is a player of great technical ability. But then his play is sporadic – and as the prime talisman in the side doesn’t contribute as much as he should.

It is true that he may not be firing on all cylinders. But then this should not be relevant to this discussion.

I must admit that Ozil for me isn’t performing to the level he should. I feel we need a creative force of more dynamism and consistency, and maybe the time for Ozil at Arsenal has come to an end.  This view doesn’t cloud my judgment here as none of the players’ perceived value or performances should impact.

But what Ozil is doing here isn’t so terrible, in my view at the least.
It is not a good look on the club, especially as this information was seemingly leaked.
We also don’t know who the other two players who refused to sign up are. Ozil in some senses is the victim as to why is he being singled out, if there are two other people refusing the deal?


– Method to the “madness”


We don’t know what Ozil’s end goal is here.

Maybe he is willing to input more, considering a thorough evaluation of the club’s finances.

I do believe, as per the above point, that his unpopularity as a player is causing angst.


What is encouraging, I feel, is that he has provisionally agreed to a pay cut. It would be far more worrying if he said no outright. Which he hasn’t.

The Arsenal Vision Podcast and respected journalist Gabrielle Marcotti have both said similar, and I believe this is being blown up more than required.


– Is there a “rat”?


A natural question in this affair is how this info got leaked.

Does Ozil have an enemy (or enemies) in the dressing room or the club who did this?

And why is Ozil being revealed amongst the three who said no?

Who can the other two be? And why are they siding with Ozil?

And possibly – as an extreme left-field option – maybe Ozil himself leaked the news. Maybe it is an attempt to put pressure on KSE to ensure transparency. It could be part of Ozil’s famed PR machine. This is wild speculation on my part, though we just don’t know. Much happens at football clubs that we as fans are not privy to. If this info has been clandestinely leaked, then it could affect future team harmony. Though what if a higher-up let it slip? For all we know, it could be a club-inspired plan, with Ozil’s blessing. Again, any point is conjecture.



Is there a rat in the camp?


So for me, in all honesty, this story has been blown up.

I do see that Ozil has acted differently than other players. Though the reports of some feeling pressured into it don’t seem right. Either way, in cases such as these, there are always individual means and perspectives. And it’s on record that Ozil has not categorically said no. He may well end up paying the lion’s share if some reports are to be believed.

This lockdown has been crazy on many accounts – and it was funny to laugh at Spurs’ manager and players’ woes until supposedly some of ours did the same. Oh well, it was fun whilst it lastest.
But we didn’t apply for furlough though. We have that one over them.



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